First Aid: A definition

Were you ever a member of the boy scouts or girl guides? If so, you may have had some basic first aid training. In that case, you’ve probably got an idea of what First Aid is. If you’re someone whom has never needed to apply first aid or be in receipt of it, then firstly you are quite lucky, but secondly you probably know little more than what a first aid box might look like and how to stick on a plaster.

What is First Aid? A definition and history.

The definition of first aid could go back as far as Ancient Greece. The concept is that the first “aid” is literally the first person at a scene of an accident, illness or injury and the actions that can be taken to prevent further injury. First aiders aren’t a substitute for medically trained professionals, but they can save lives. The practice of First Aid as a profession as we know it begun with the Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance in the 19th Century.

Over time, conscientious employers in particular settings such as construction or factory work became more aware of the need for First Aid in the work place, and begun to pay more attention to having a trained person nearby. Of course, not all employers were scrupulous and there was no formal legislation in place to protect workers. It wasn’t uncommon particularly during the industrial revolution for employees to be seriously or fatally injured at work.

As acts of Parliament came more common place in the UK thanks to our entry into the European Union, employee rights and employer responsibilities became more closely scrutinised, and resulted in the creation of the Health and Safety at Work etc. act in 1974, making it law for employers to keep their employees safe. A few years later the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 were created and enforced.

Specifically, the First Aid regulations for employers are: “to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work”

How does the law relating to First Aid affect employers?

Any business with 5 employees or more must appoint someone to be responsible for Health and Safety at work and provide a suitably stocked first aid box for the environment. So for example, a small kiosk with minimal risk may have a different first aid box from a factory that produces sharp materials or hazardous chemicals. Businesses that carry out activities with a higher risk of injury to employees need to have a trained First-Aider, in which case the first-aider should hold a recognised certificate from a reputable first aid training provider.

The general training involved in first-aid courses includes:

  • how to assess risk before administering first-aid
  • resuscitation techniques
  • how to deal with severe cuts
  • how to deal with unconscious people
  • how to manage choking patients
  • treating burns, bites, stings and sprains

So we hope by reading this far, you can see now that first aid is so much more than a green box with a white cross on it; it’s potentially life-saving, and it’s law.